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Whole-body multi-contact motion in humans and humanoids: Advances of the CoDyCo European project


Traditional industrial applications involve robots with limited mobility. Consequently, interaction (e.g. manipulation) was treated separately from whole-body posture (e.g. balancing), assuming the robot firmly connected to the ground. Foreseen applications involve robots with augmented autonomy and physical mobility. Within this novel context, physical interaction influences stability and balance. To allow robots to surpass barriers between interaction and posture control, forthcoming robotic research needs to investigate the principles governing whole-body motion and coordination with contact dynamics. There is a need to investigate the principles of motion and coordination of physical interaction, including the aspects related to unpredictability. Recent developments in compliant actuation and touch sensing allow safe and robust physical interaction from unexpected contact including humans. The next advancement for cognitive robots, however, is the ability not only to cope with unpredictable contact, but also to exploit predictable contact in ways that will assist in goal achievement. Last but not least, theoretical results needs to be validated in real-world scenarios with humanoid robots engaged in whole-body goal-directed tasks. Robots should be capable of exploiting rigid supportive contacts, learning to compensate for compliant contacts, and utilising assistive physical interaction from humans. The work presented in this paper presents state-of-the-art in these domains as well as some recent advances made within the framework of the CoDyCo European project.